For what it's worth, here are my marathon stories.
While training to run the Chicago Marathon in 2000, I ran the San Francisco Marathon as a "half" in order to establish my time and see where I was in my training. That meant that I ran 13.1 miles in San Francisco (Lord have mercy, those hills!) And at the age of 39, I ran it in a little over 2 hours. I was most certainly not a sub-two-hour runner. I've cropped my son out of this photo. But I am holding him to my leg, with a banana in my hand. And I'm proudly showing my MEDAL to my husband. I have no idea where the person is who took the second leg of the race. (And I have no idea why I was wearing earrings. But I wasn't wearing a lick of makeup because you just sweat it off and who cares!) It doesn't matter. I crossed MY finish line. And I got my medal.
Here I am having finished Chicago a few months later. 26.2 miles. Wrapped in mylar, whooping it up with my child. My medal visible, my timing device still on my sneaker (I sorry I don't have a better photo on my computer.)
Here's one thing I'll say about running marathons, or even 5Ks. I never, ever wore cotton. In fact, I didn't know anyone who did. It's heavy and gets soaked with sweat. That means you carry wet cloth over your body instead of letting the sweat evaporate or get wicked out by synthetic material. I also shed whatever warm clothes I wore to the starting line before I started to run. Meaning I handed them to my husband or left them in the car. Why? Well, what else are you going to do with them? Throw them on the ground en route? That sure gets expensive if you run a lot of races. Besides, you warm up in no time. Also, too, the swag you get at races is fun. Often times, I'd put on the race T-shirt after the race in order to get into something completely dry.
That's not to say that I did everything right. I mean, I also slapped a lot of hands held out to me in Chicago (what a fabulous town for a marathon!) and then wiped my nose right afterwards. But you're not really thinking about good health habits when you're running long distance.
In shorter trial races, did I pass people? Sure. But when you're a faster runner, you don't generally start with the walkers at in the back. You just know where to position yourself.
Those were good times. My joints can't handle it now. But boy, it was fun. And it was also local. Other than flying to Chicago to run in a (thank God, flat!) marathon, I never drove more than 15 miles from my home for a race. Never had to. Never would have crossed my mind to. Unless I had some ulterior motive. Or a burning desire to see the Iowa countryside. Just sayin'.
Keep the open thread going. I love our conversations!